The other night I tried to explain to a girlfriend why it is that I’ve never felt sexually attracted to one of my good guy friends. A guy who is smart, good-looking and highly personable. One of those “good men” who are supposed to be so hard–if not impossible–for a woman to find.
“Is he nerdy?” she asked.
“Kind of,” I said. “But not really.”
“Is he boring?”
“Nope. Totally interesting. Has tons of hobbies.”
“Is he, like, incapable of irony or sarcasm?”
I told her I thought that was a good guess, but also off the mark. “He’s actually really funny and can definitely be sarcastic.”
“So, what is it then?”
I could not give her a truly satisfactory answer. I remarked that other women I know who have met this guy agree that he is someone I probably should be attracted to, but recognize why I’m not. The closest I could come was to say that he lacked an edge.
“I think guys need to have an edge,” I said. “Whatever that is.”
For the past few days I have become obsessed with pinpointing what, exactly, that is. And I have been grasping. It’s not about type or style: I can think of conservative guys who have it and more alternative ones who don’t.
Not surprisingly, I’ve attempted to consult any available girlfriends on the question. Tonight I talked to one of my NY best friends and asked her what she thought.
“Didn’t you kinda feel that was missing with the lawyer guy?” she asked. She was right: “the lawyer guy” she referred to is my Missed Connection–the one I met on the subway and convinced myself I was in love with even though my attraction, post-initial-sighting, was always a but tenuous.
“Yeah,” I said. “He was just so…nice.”
And there we have it, ladies. I fear that the elusive “edge” that I, and so very many of us require in a male is really just a little bit of mean-ness.
I once dated a guy–by all accounts good and nice–who always joked that he was careful to be just enough of an ass hole to keep women interested.
Funny, but true.
I always like to reject cliches. Especially when they sound toxic and anti-feminist, such as the one that says women don’t go for nice guys. But this is one that I might have to kinda embrace. Kinda.
I think, though, that most of us do want guys who are good: who treat us well, who are chivalrous and kind and respectful. (And of course, tell us frequently that we are beautiful. Ahem.) We don’t–okay, most of us don’t–want guys who are straight up jerks.
We just want good guys who come across as having the potential to sometimes, maybe, be a little bit mean.
For me I wonder if part of it is feeling like I’m not the nicest person–frankly I’m pretty darn judgmental–and want a partner who has got some of that in him too.
And I also wonder if there is some primitive hormonal instinct at work: we feel better and safer with someone who seems like he could break another man’s nose if he had to.
You know, who seems like he has an edge.